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Home > RHI > Censorship & Banned Books

Click here to download a pdf (33mb) of RHI: Censorship & Banned Books, or email us for a free printed copy.

You can browse the magazine's contents online below:

  • Of Special Note: An original poem by Billy Collins, and some words from Random House.

  • Professional Organizations: Advice and wisdom from leading organizations at the forefront of the battle against censorship

  • Teacher's Guides: Methods and tools for use in the classroom and in your career.

  • Author Spotlight: Nearly 30 authors, including Maya Angelou, Judy Blume and Ray Bradbury, share their experiences and perspectives on the topic.

  • Professional Reading: Books for school-wide reading and professional development.

  • Reply to RHI: Email us with your thoughts about the magazine.

Of Special Note

Rain: An Original Poem
by Billy Collins
In a poem that is simultaneously profound and accessible, Billy Collins explores the ludicrous, but ultimately frightening, repercussions of a society in which book banning is condoned.
(Download as PDF)

Focus On: Censorship & Banned Books
by Michael Gentile
Today, book burning is sometimes literal, sometimes metaphorical, but the result is always the same: books disappear.
(Download as PDF)

Professional Organizations

An Open Letter to Teachers and Librarians
by Pat Schroeder, AAP
Pat Schroeder, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers, has a message for those on the frontlines.
(Download as PDF)

Book Censorship 2008: A View from the Trenches
by Joan Bertin, NCAC
Joan Bertin, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), looks at recent trends in book censorship and offers advice for schools and school districts so they may avoid or curb unnecessarily contentious, and divisive, debates.
(Download as PDF)

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read During Banned Books Week
by Judith Krug, ALA
The Director of the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom discusses the history and possibilities of Banned Books Week.
(Download as PDF)

Standing Up to One's Own Neighbors: PEN American Center on the Greatest Struggle Against Censorship
by Larry Siems, PEN American Center
Larry Siems, Director of the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center, discusses the organization's unwavering support for writers and free speech, from the days of the Nazi book burnings to the more recent reporting of facts during and after Hurricane Katrina.
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An Original Comic from Unshelved.com
by Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum, Unshelved.com
A humorous look at what librarians REALLY think about censorship.
(Download as PDF)

Your Bookseller: A Friend of Free Speech
by Christopher M. Finan, ABFFE
The president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) discusses how booksellers have worked alongside teachers and librarians for years, as well as his organization's exciting new "Kids' Right to Read Project".
(Download as PDF)

Bringing Literature to Life: Staging Classic Works, and Confronting Authentic Language in the Modern Classroom
by David Kener, The American Place Theatre
The American Place Theatre's Executive Director David Kener discusses the company's "Literature to Life Program" and the rewards, and challenges, that come with staging classic works of literature.
(Download as PDF)

Teacher's Guides

Does Censorship Matter?
by Pat Scales
ALSC President Pat Scales' unequivocal answer is yes. Through numerous examples, she demonstrates how censorship is detrimental not only to children academically but also emotionally, as well as how we may fight back.
(Download as PDF)

The Next Battleground: Audiobooks and Censorship
by Teri S. Lesesne
With 30 years of successful work getting audiobooks accepted as mainstream now behind her, 2007 ALAN Award recipient Teri S. Lesesne now gears you up for what could be the next battle: censorship of audiobooks and digital media.
(Download as PDF)

Facing Our Fears: Integrating Challenging New Books into 21st Century Curricula
by ReLeah Cossett Lent
ReLeah Cossett Lent admits that some books will be challenged. Instead of pretending it can't happen, prepare yourself: know the protocol for book complaints.
(Download as PDF)

Believe in What You Teach, Down to the Comma: What My Experience with Censorship Taught Me About Trust, Freedom and Standing Up For What You Believe
by Kimberly Horne
2007 NCTE/SLATE Award Winner Kimberly Horne discusses when her school had to face either self-censorship or the loss of a sizeable donation.
(Download as PDF)

Fighting for the Freedom to Read
by Erin Gruwell
Author of "The Freedom Writers Diary" reflects on her book's being challenged in school districts across the nation, including a high profile case in Indiana.
(Download as PDF)

Author Spotlight

Those Who Burn Books
by Maya Angelou
One of our most celebrated poets, Maya Angelou, openly mourns for those children who will be unable to read censored authors like Vonnegut, Dickens, and herself.
(Download as PDF)

Fahrenheit 451—55 Years Later
by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury, author of one of the defining classics of the twentieth century, recalls the origins of his legendary work and reflects on its impact and influence throughout the world.
(Download as PDF)

Where Even Gifts Are Censored: Introducing John Wyndham's dystopian classic to a new generation of young readers
by Edwin Frank
"The Chrysalids" offers an especially vivid picture of a society ruled by dogmatism, with a special resonance for young adult readers.
(Download as PDF)

The Future is Now: Marketing, Censorship & Communication
by Thomas Nevins
Novelist Thomas Nevins envisions a future wherein marketing trumps the message and people must communciate authentically in order to hold on to their humanity.
(Download as PDF)

A Dangerous Utopia
by Lois Lowry
Pretending that there are no choices to be made in an increasingly frightening world—for example, reading only books which are cheery and safe and nice—is a prescription for disaster for the young.
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About Censorship...In Her Own Words
by Judy Blume
For Blume, book banning hurts children—their ability to learn, love, grow, and think for themselves. The fear instilled by censors, she argues, is just as damaging as censorship itself.
(Download as PDF)

Shakespeare & Censorship: A Roundtable Discussion Featuring David Bevington, Eric Rasmussen, Ron Rosenbaum, and Brandon Toropov
We asked four leading Shakespearean scholars to discuss the Bard, his work, and the impact of censorship on the two both during their time, and up through to the present day.
(Download as PDF)

A Letter to the Editor of the Charleston Gazette
by Pat Conroy
Conroy's eloquent response to the banning of books should be read by censors around the country. It is a moving testament to his love of English and its teachers.
(Download as PDF)

Dangerous Words, Dangerous Ideas: A Prescription for Literature that Lasts
by Jon Clinch
"Finn" author Jon Clinch discusses how Mark Twain's use of ordinary language and humane portrait of a runaway slave in the "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" confounded readers of his own time, and continues to stir readers today.
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It Began With Cain: Why Violence in Literature Cannot and Should Not Be Banned
by Phil LaMarche
If literature is to represent human experience, author Phil LaMarche argues that violence cannot be excluded from the medium.
(Download as PDF)

Censoring the Costs of War: Reading The Souvenir
by Louise Steinman
"The Souvenir," based on censored letters written by the author’s father during World War II, inspires students to participate in honest conversations about the meaning and cost of war.
(Download as PDF)

"Don't throw these in the fire, Fred. They have fire in them already."
by Ted Engelmann
A Viet Nam veteran, photographer, and educator reflects back on his intimate experiences with one book while raising issues about censorship and war propaganda.
(Download as PDF)

This is Dedicated to Those Who Burn Books: Charles Bock on himself, Kurt Vonnegut, and all those who get burned
by Charles Bock
Author Charles Bock tells the story of how his own book, "Beautiful Children," was literally burned and desecrated, and reflects on the censored works of other authors, including Kurt Vonnegut.
(Download as PDF)

Coming After Us
by Salman Rushdie
Author Salman Rushdie discusses the influences of religion on society and literature and the religious motivation that fueled response to his novel, "Satanic Verses."
(Download as PDF)

Hester Prynne and Me
by David Ebershoff
Author and Random House editor David Ebershoff wonders why Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" has not been banned, and he goes on to draws parallels between Hawthorne's Hester Prynne and the female protagonist of his own new novel, "The 19th Wife."
(Download as PDF)

The Word, Visualized
by Siku
Siku, one of Britian's leading comic book creators and conceptualists, explains how manga and comic books can be subject to censorship and ridicule, as is the case with his new manga adaptation of the Bible.
(Download as PDF)

(Not So) Funny in Farsi
by Firoozeh Dumas
Firoozeh Dumas recounts her experience with censorship in her native Iran as the Persian edition of her book, "Funny in Farsi," faced government scrutiny while becoming one of the top-selling books in the country.
(Download as PDF)

The Censor's Perfect World
by Lloyd Jones
Novelist Lloyd Jones examines censorship in the context of how Kafka was censored as well as the parental censorship in his book "Mister Pip."
(Download as PDF)

International Writers Speak Out About Censorship: A Q&A with Elizabeth Subercaseaux & Karen Connelly
We queried two writers on their experiences with censorship outside of the States, and to offer advice for budding writers around the world.
(Download as PDF)

Book Banning: Ouds, Oeuvres, and Oppressors
by Donald Friedman
Author Donald Friedman profiles famous writers who turned to visual arts to express themselves, often in reaction to the banning of their written works.
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Journalism, Media & Technology: A Roundtable Discussion Featuring Adam Mansbach, Lee Siegel, and Matt Taibbi
We asked three authors to grapple with some of the timeless issues on the role of writers and media in a demoracy, as well as some of the emerging challenges—and promise—of new technologies
(Download as PDF)

Learning (and Unlearning) the Lessons of Katrina: Sifting Through Myths, Distortions and Suppresed Truths
by Jed Horne
New Orleans reporter Jed Horne uncovers the distortions and information suppression following Hurricane Katrina, and the subsequent effect on the recovery, education system, and population of the city.
(Download as PDF)

Wrestling with Joe McCarthy: A Historian Reflects on McCarthyism & Its Legacy
by Susan Griffin
Historian Susan Griffin reminisces about her activism for free speech in the time of Joe McCarthy, and the modern parallels of government wire-taps for the sake of national security.
(Download as PDF)


Professional Reading

Disability or Difference?: One Aspergian Author's Crusade to Change the Way We Think and Speak About Autism
by John Elder Robison
The author of "Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's" talks about his life story and why it resonates so well with students from all backgrounds.
(Download as PDF)

Ask for It: Teaching your Studentsand Yourselfto Negotiate
by Linda Babcock
Co-author of "Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want" talks about the book's broader message and how it can work not just for women, but for all facultyand even students.
(Download as PDF)



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